WPA Issues Challenge to the Poker World
Women’s Poker Association Establishes International #RaiseItUp Day, October 1st, 2020 – A Call to Action for Zero Tolerance of Abuse in Poker
Abuse. It touches the entire spectrum of online and live poker and it has to stop. All poker players have either experienced, or witnessed, some form of abuse while playing poker. Abuse happens more frequently for women than men and is the number one barrier for women entering poker. As an industry, we must take measures to ensure a worldwide zero tolerance of abuse action plan in poker. This is why WPA’s #RaiseItUp Awareness Movement was created. Raise It Up is akin to the “See Something Say Something” campaign used by Homeland Security in the US. They ask all citizens to report any suspicious behavior to prevent potential terrorist attacks. Well, WPA is asking all people in poker to commit to Raise It Up! – Raise the Respect in behavior, Raise the Fun at the table, and together, we can Raise the Growth in poker. #RaiseItUp
Many conversations are held around the subject of abuse and what to do about it. Strategies and policies have been put in place in many poker rooms to properly handle abusive situations. Even the Tournament Directors Association (TDA) Summit in 2019 addressed the problem and many ideas were tossed around. It is the belief of the WPA, nothing of significance will change until the entire industry makes it our number one priority.
A little over 20 years ago, some of poker’s top influencers began an industry-wide campaign to do a couple of things. One, to stop smoking in poker rooms. It needed to be done for the betterment of the game and it worked. Non-smoking poker rooms are “normal” today and no one questions it. The second issue? To implement a Zero Tolerance of Abuse policy in poker rooms. Did it work? Not so much. But it was a beginning. Most poker rooms have rules against abuse. However, many do not implement consequences when abuse takes place.
Poker pays a significant price for allowing bad behavior to exist in our game. Granted, poker isn’t church. It is a game of strategic aggression and calculation which includes the element of banter used to sway the outcome of a hand. All acceptable and appreciated as part of the game. Where it becomes a problem, is when banter turns to name calling and threats of harm are made. It was recently observed globally when a well-known poker player berated and threatened another player with physical harm on a social media platform. This type of behavior crosses the line and it should never be tolerated without consequence. This is only one example of millions of incidents of abuse in poker. One thing we know is, abuse of any kind, causes everyone to lose.
Poker should be fun! Hostile environments are NEVER fun. When abuse happens at the table, it affects more than those involved. It impacts all players who witness it as well. Why isn’t more being done about it? Because it comes with risk. Perhaps the staff isn’t properly trained to deal with unruly players which may create a lack of confidence in enforcing rules. Or let’s say the person who is causing harm is a regular or a high roller, as an operator, you don’t want to lose their business. Or the harasser is a really bad player who loses a lot of money when they play. Do we want them to leave the table? The answer is yes. There needs to be consequences for all abusive behavior. Long term, bad behavior gone unchecked, hurts everyone. Players and operators both seek the bottom line, to make money. Truth is, people will play, and play longer, when they enjoy the game in a safe and fun environment.
Who doesn’t want more growth in the game we love? WPA is on a mission to bring more women into poker. However it can be challenging when we need to insert disclaimers about possible bad behavior too. It’s disheartening for us to hear women share stories of disturbing situations at the poker table. Harassment, sexual remarks, scary intimidation tactics and oftentimes, the abuse is not addressed at the table and no one protects the player. “Toughen up little girl, this is a man’s game”. Yes, a great many women are thick skinned and are perfectly capable of standing up for themselves. But at times, even the most skilled players may experience fear in a threatening situation. Including men. It can be intimidating and fearful when another person lacks control.
Understand this… this is not a gender issue. It’s about zero tolerance of abuse from any individual to another. It’s clear to WPA, our campaign is for all of poker, not just women.
Poker needs to step up and look into abuse so we can do something about it. The WPA #RaiseItUp social awareness movement was originally created to bring awareness to the challenges women face in poker. It was quickly evident all of poker benefits from this campaign.
You too can help make the change. First, make a personal commitment to Raise It Up! Raise the Respect given to your fellow players and poker staff. Be aware of your own interactions at the table. Choose not to tell another player how badly they played, even if you lost a hand to their poor choices. Commit to Raise the Fun in poker. Be friendly and kind with everyone. By doing so, we create an environment to Grow the Game and enjoy a safe place to play.
We are challenging all of poker to show their commitment to zero tolerance of abuse in poker. Join our social awareness movement on International #RaiseItUp Day, October 1st, 2020. Show your commitment by visiting wpa.poker to download the #RaiseItUp logo and use it to post a photo of yourself raising your pointer finger in the air and using the hashtag #RaiseItUp on all your social media outlets for the day. Let’s flood the internet with thousands of photos of poker players and industry people alike, committing to elevate the experience for everyone in the game we love.
To learn more about Women’s Poker Association, the #RaiseItUp movement, and our certification program of poker rooms who commit to zero tolerance of abuse in poker, visit RaiseItUp.